Most businesses will face a PR crisis at some point during their career. Unfortunately, issues can occur all-too-easily, whether it’s someone posting the wrong comment on social media, or an angry employee acting out with a customer. Regardless of the situation in question, an apology can go a long way towards making sure that a client remains mostly unscathed. Letting people know that a company is aware of the problem, and they’re addressing them, goes a long way towards regaining trust and loyalty.
Of course, there is such thing as a bad apology. To make sure they have the right impact, businesses and their PR agents need to carefully plan a strategy for how they’re going to address the public. The following tips could help.
Understand Public Sentiment
A PR agency’s understanding of public sentiment is critical when it comes to handling a crisis. Social media can be a quick gauge of public opinion, but it’s also worth looking at how online forums and television channels are reporting the circumstances too. PR agents will need to conduct a quick sweep of all the media coverage surrounding the situation before they start planning the nature of a company’s public apology.
Address Issues Quickly
While it’s important to gather all the facts before making an apology, swift action is essential in a sensitive situation. Customers and shareholders will be waiting for a comment to be announced from the moment the news about the issue breaks. With that in mind, it’s important for leaders to express their empathy about the situation as quickly as possible, and let people know that they’re doing what they can to address the problem.
Use Everyday Language
It’s important for modern businesses to remember that they’re addressing the general public as well as stakeholders and investors when they make their apology. That means cutting out any legal jargon or industry language and replacing it with words that anyone can understand. Common and sincere messages written in plain language will go a lot further than any complicated message. The right tone can also help to highlight the humanity behind a brand.
Apologize on Video
A good way for any company to show their emotional and human side is to apologize on video, rather than writing a press release statement. Scripting and shooting a video can take time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it for companies that want to bring more credibility to their brand. It’s much easier to believe someone when we see the sincerity on their face.
Finally, after an apology, it’s important for companies to show that they’re not all talk. When a brand tells the public that it’s aware of an issue and it’s going to do everything it can to fix the problem, they need to be willing to follow through on that claim. Get the apology right and follow up with the right fixes, and a brand can actually come out stronger after a crisis. The key is working with the right PR agency to get things done fast.
5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian, Founder of 5W Public Relaitons.